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The history of Lake Ganvié

According to legend, the origin of Ganvié is linked to the tribal wars and slave raids of the 17th century. The first inhabitants arrived from Togo with their king Agbogdobé in 1717. The powerful king in Vaudoun, metamorphosed into a hawk, flew over the lagoon and discovered the island of Ganvié. His subjects who remained on the shore could not pass. He then did another magic that transformed him into a crocodile, thus carrying his subjects on his back. Since the crocodile is sacred in Ganvié!

More recently, the creation of the communes of Sô-Ava and Aguégués is the result of a migratory movement of populations which led to the settlement of the southern region of the current Republic of Benin. These include the migration of Dakomènou and Sokomènou who at more or less frequent intervals have taken up residence on Lake Nokoué and its surroundings.

The particularity of life on Lake Nokoué is "construction on stilts". Dwellings on stilts entirely built in natural material (wood, bamboo, straw, various plants) which are capable of withstanding bad weather and climatic hazards for decades.

Today Lake Ganvié is the most important lakeside city in West Africa and has been on the UNESCO tentative list since 1996. This city is a unique tourist curiosity in Africa, even in the world. Here, all the life of the population takes place on water and revolves around water.

How to discover Ganvié AND Lake Nokoué

Visit Ganvié and the lakeside villages , inhabited by 30,000 people, located in the heart of Lake Nokoué with an area of approximately 339 ha. Lake Nokoué is located about twenty minutes from Cotonou. To discover Ganvié and the lakeside villages, we offer various circuits by motorized canoe accompanied by a guide who will introduce you to the fauna, flora, fishing techniques, history and traditional life of the inhabitants.

Visit Ganvié and the fishing villages

Duration: 6 hours - free picnic

During this journey in a motorized canoe, the guide will make you discover the lakeside village of Ganvié also called the Venice of West Africa, with its floating market, its lovers' street, its house of the Francophonie and its canoes. sailing, then you

le village lacustre de Ganvié

cross Lake Nokoué towards the Ouémé river and the town of Aguégués. During this day on Lake Nokoué, you will discover the activities and traditions of the people called the Men of Water in the local language "Toffinou".


You can disembark at the port of Porto-Novo and continue your visit to Porto-Novo and Adjarra, our driver will be waiting for you at the pier.

the tourist site of Ganvié by motorized canoe

The bird canal

Duration: 4 hours - free picnic

Your guide Boniface passionate about ornithology will make you discover in a motorized canoe the canal of the morning fishermen, the dormitory of the night herons and other species for the enthusiasts then you

Le lac Nokoué, la canal aux oiseaux

visit the village of Gbessou and its colonial dizziness, the work of women smokers of fish, the village of Houedo Gbadji on stilts, the fish parks, the technique of hawk fishing, you end the tourist circuit by the village So tchanhoue, before to reach the So Ava pier.

La rivière sacrée, le lac Nokoué BENIN

The sacred river and the monkey forest

Duration: 7 hours - free picnic

To discover the traditions and the lakeside villages, during 7 hours in a canoe you will go up the So river to discover: the villages of Ahomey de Gblon, Hounmey Lokpo, Zoungomey, Kinto, the sacred river, the forest and its monkeys in Togbota.

Stay in Ganvié, the lakeside village of Lake Nokoué

If you want to immerse yourself in the atmosphere and the life of the inhabitants of Ganvié, we suggest that you stay there, either in a hotel or in a private home.


You will have the opportunity in particular to discover from 4 hours at sunrise, the floating fishermen's market , or attend a traditional dance show (for groups), and discover all the activities of the inhabitants of Lake Nokoué.

Careful management of your request for Ganvié

le lac Nokoué au BENIN


Duration: 4 hours - breakfast offered

Departure by canoe from the So Ava pier at 6:15 am and discover the sunrise over Lake Nokoué and the awakening of activity, including the floating market on Lake Ganvié.

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